Any book lovers in the house?

Like a good college student does with so many different things, much of my online advertising is about experimenting. The blog has been a success. Faceb00k campaigns at Christmas time, also a homerun. But, FB ads haven’t been doing great lately, and now, it seems Google Adwords are failing me, too. At least when it comes to Valentine’s Day.

I thought I had a good ad:

  • Unique Valentine’s gift?
  • Get the heart pumping with an award
  • winning, signed thriller – 20% off!
  • shop.markfadden.com
  • It gave all the pertinent info, attempted to solve the customer’s problem with something unique, and on sale to boot. The ad had over 63,000 impressions, and was clicked on 42 times. Now, here’s the kicker, the cost on this ad was waayyy higher than what I’m used to with my Google ads. They averaged $1.25 each, where I’m used to paying about $.15-$.25 each. Plus, I got not one sale from it. So, it’s back to the drawing board.

    But, maybe it’s time to look at not the ad or the delivery service, but where my potential customers are going. I mean, I had 42 people that were willing to take the time to visit my website. From the ad, they knew they were going onto a thriller writer’s website. But, alas, I couldn’t close the deal. Or is it my site not closing the deal?

    As CEO of MarkFadden.com, I’m making the executive decision to get a real website developer to redesign my site. I did it myself with the help of godaddy.com site builder software and I’m the one that updates it. But I need something better. It is, after all, my storefront, and I need to make it look like I know what I’m doing. It needs to be a pleasant, informative, and exciting experience, or else people won’t stay. They won’t hang out. They’ll go visit James Patterson’s site, and his, I’ll be honest, is really cool.

    So, I’m taking the rest of February to find a designer. Hopefully, I’ll have him or her in place by March and, by the grace of the big guy upstairs, the new and improved MarkFadden.com will go live April 1, and that ain’t no April fools.

    What about you? Do you wish your website was better? How? Was it DYI? Did you hire a designer? Has it evolved over time?

    To the keyboards!

    **********************************************************************

    Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and award-winning author of Five Days in Dallas and The Brink. Send him an email at mark@markfadden.com.  

    New Ereader? Download the eBook version of The Brink in seconds, for less than $8

    Need a unique Valentine’s Day gift? Buy a signed copy of The Brink for the book lover in your life. 20% off the cover price + FREE SHIPPING!

    The perfect holiday for book lovers

    “Book lovers.”

    The term has been around as long as Romeo and Juliet, or maybe even Adam and Eve. Well, what better way to sell your book than to sell it to a book lover. And what holiday is just around the corner that’s all about love?

    As I’ve stated in past blogs, I’ve given up on Facebook ads to drive people to my online storefront. The popular notion is that once people are on FB, they want to stay there. I’ve been toying with a new FB ad about driving more people to my FB author site, but that’s for another blog entry.

    So, in order to drum up some sales for Valentine’s Day, I turn to old faithful, Google Adwords. Here’s the skinny:

    1. Keyword tool – through using Google’s keyword tool, I found out that terms like “gift book”, “valentine book”, “valentine gifts for him”, and “valentines books” have high monthly searches and low competition.

    2. Ad creation – I created a text ad, here it is:

  • Unique Valentine’s gift?
  • Get the heart pumping with an award
  • winning, signed thriller – 20% off!
  • shop.markfadden.com
  • I think it’s pretty good, the title is addressing the person’s concern about wanting a unique gift, it gives them info about the fact that my book is a thriller that won an award, and it’s 20% off.

    Today was the first day to run the ad, so we’ll see how it goes.

    What about you? Are you planning any special Valentine sales campaigns? If so, do share…To the keyboards!

    Special note about the blog – From now on, new “Beyond the Book” posts will go out  on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

    Author shares secrets on selling books

    “Today’s up and coming authors must act like an entrepreneur if they want anyone besides their mother to read their books.” That was the central message of author Mark Fadden’s recent “Get Your Book Read!” presentation at the Alvarado Public Library in Alvarado, Texas. With more writers going the self-publishing route, and with publishing houses slashing their marketing budgets to the bone, authors must not only write the book these days, but they must act as their own public relations and marketing managers as well. “The good news is that by using the Internet, there has never been an easier time to get our message out to the masses,” Fadden said. “The bad news is that we’re also competing with the millions of other marketing messages that are sent out every day and vying for people’s attention. There are many ways for authors to be seen and heard, we just have to remain diligent about communicating our message to the world.”

    Not only is Fadden a freelance writer and he continues to work on new novels, he is also currently on a book tour promoting his latest award-winning thriller, The Brink. In the book, a fugitive cop helps a woman running for her life only to get sucked into a secret society’s plot for global financial Armageddon. Fadden uses many social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and his blog to spread the word about his books. However, he will be the first to say that when it comes to making fans, it’s still face to face meetings that work best.

    “A recent study stated that 71 percent of all communication is still face to face. 21 percent is over the phone. Email, texting and participating in chat rooms and other online platforms like Facebook still account for less than six percent. While keeping an online presence is important, meeting people in the flesh is still key.” Fadden, who lives in Colleyville, Texas, also answered questions from the audience about his experience with publishing, what inspires him and how he got his start. The interaction with potential fans is something he truly enjoys. “I love talking to readers. It also allows me to thank them for taking the time to read my work, which is a huge investment when there are so many other forces tugging at people these days. It also gives me a chance to hear their feedback, which helps improve my writing.”

    Fadden’s take-home message from his presentation was that while getting the book published is a huge accomplishment, it is only the beginning of the hard work. “I’ve been a writer for almost 10 years now, and many folks that come out to these presentations are writers themselves that have questions about how to get their work published. While I try to give them as much information as I can about getting published, I try to make sure they understand that the marketing aspect is even more critical, especially since they’ll be doing most of it themselves. While it can seem overwhelming, if you have a good marketing plan, that makes all the difference. It’s all about the three Ps – planning, patience and persistence.”

    “This talk was amazingly interesting,” said Cheryl Chaplin of Alvarado, who took copious notes during Fadden’s presentation. “A friend of my son’s is a writer, he’s written a novella and hopes to turn it into a full-length novel. This is priceless information for him.”

    The Brink has won its publisher’s Editor’s Choice Award and the Rising Star Award. Not only does Fadden have several signings scheduled at book stores in the Dallas/Fort-Worth, Texas area this fall, readers can preview the book and even get a signed copy at http://www.markfadden.com. Fadden’s blog, The Campaign: dispatches from the literary trenches, can be viewed at https://markfadden.wordpress.com/. Copies of Fadden’s “Get Your Book Read” PowerPoint presentation are available for free. Simply email him at mark@markfadden.com for a copy.

    Writing and marketing your novel: A glimpse from the trenches

    August 25, 2010

    Day 72 of 365

    Books sold so far (May and June 2010): 246

    In this issue:

    • Writing topic – Bringing Characters to Life
    • Marketing Topic – Google AdWords, Day 4

    Writing topic – Bringing Characters to Life

    One of the first things I do when I’m about to begin working on a new novel is to get the character list together. Some writers sit down in front of a blank screen and just begin where they think the story should start. That’s how I first started years ago, but over time I found out that it’s a HUGE time saver to approach writing a novel like your writing a business plan. I even use Microsoft Excel to do my outline because as the story evolves, scenes change in the timeline (But more about outlining comes later). In any business plan, you have to know what you’re trying to “sell” (the type of story) and who is going to do the “selling” (the characters). So, I think about all the characters that are going to be in the story, and I write a paragraph about their back story. Nothing big, just a couple sentences describing them and what it is about them that adds drama and moves the story forward. Since stories, whether fiction or non-fiction, are all about relationships, I then do a flowchart to show how all these characters interact. It’s a pretty cool exercise and you can really get into how all the different characters can have an affect on each other without even knowing it. Plus, it gets the brainstorm juices flowing about how each character has the ability/possibility to manipulate others. Stephen King’s Needful Things was a chilling play on how this phenomenon can work to an evil end.

    What about you? Are you a throw caution to the wind and just start typing kind of person? (and there’s nothing wrong with that). Or do you take more of an analytical approach to beginning your writing project? If so, what’s your technique?

    Marketing Topic – Google AdWords, Day 4

    The ads are doing well. The “Bilderberg ad”

    got 19 clicks today, maxing out my $10 a day budget. My second ad tied to the upcoming Labor Day holiday was:

    and I changed it to the following ad because it was sucking eggs with 0 clicks:

    It’s gotten 9 clicks so far and is scheduled to run through Aug 26. It’s linked to my website home page where there’s a banner about getting the book on Amazon for 22% off and it will get to the customer by Labor Day with standard shipping.

    Since starting the Google ad campaign, I have seen a 26% rise in traffic on my website. On Aug 24, two days ago, I had over 800 hits, a 53% increase in the number of hits from the day before. Aug 24 is when I started the Google ads, so there must be a correlation between the two. But, does that in turn mean higher book sales? With a 2 month lag time until sales numbers come out (August come out in Oct from the publisher) it’s too soon to tell.

    I promise this is the last post about Google AdWords. Tomorrow night’s marketing post will be a lot more exciting. Here’s a sneak peek at the title:

    Marketing Topic, Part Deux – How Google Alerts help you write compelling news releases

    Until then,

    The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

    Rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…  

     

    Writing and marketing your novel: A glimpse from the trenches

    August 23, 2010

    Day 70 of 365

    Books sold so far (May and June 2010): 246

    In this issue:

    • Writing topic – Could I have a side of pommes frittes with my bildungsroman?
    • Marketing Topic – Google AdWords – the only constant is change

    Writing topic – Could I have a side of pommes frittes with my bildungsroman?

    I was actually going to talk about the topic, “Should novelists try to educate through their work?” But after going back through old posts, I realized we already covered that one. But as I was researching one of the greatest ‘teaching novels,’ To Kill a Mockingbird, I came across a fascinating word: bildungsroman. The official definition of bildungsroman in Wikipedia is, “is a genre of the novel which focuses on the psychological and moral growth of the protagonist from youth to adulthood.” We Americans refer to it as the ‘coming of age’ story. Now, the YA genre is filled with novels dripping with bildungsroman: the aforementioned To Kill a Mockingbird, Huckleberry Finn, Treasure Island, the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson novels, and Great Expectations, just to name a few. But, does that mean that it must only occur in YA novels? I never found the German word for adult novels where the characters also “come of age” during the story, but as I thought about it, I’ve always connected with those characters that mature psychologically and morally during the story. What about you? Are the flawed heroes your favorite? What are the books that contain their stories?    

    Marketing Topic – Google AdWords, the only constant is change

    Last week, I started doing ads on Google AdWords. As I mentioned in a previous post, while Facebook allows you to include a pic with your ad, Facebook doesn’t track which keywords are working for you, and which aren’t. Facebook only allows you to send your ad out to one group of people, say ones that listed, “reading” as a hobby. With Google, you can get really specific. For example, my ad last week was:

    The keywords I listed, in order from most to least clicked were: “double-dip recession” 7 clicks; “financial crisis” 4 clicks; “award winning thriller” 2 clicks; “best political thrillers” 0 clicks; and “US bankrupt” 0 clicks. My daily budget is $10, and I have a maximum bid of $1 per click.

    I’m changing up the ad and the groups of people that will see it.

    Here’s the new ad:

    The Bilderberg Group, which is the secret society referred to in the novel, has been in the news lately. Both Rush Limbaugh and Fidel Castro are talking about them. Anyway, I’ve changed the keywords associated with this new ad to “Bilderberg”; “Bilderberg Group”; “New World Order”;  and I’ve kept “financial crisis”; “award winning thriller”; and “best political thrillers.” I’ll have some new numbers for this ad in tomorrow’s post.

    Until then, I’ve got to go play tooth fairy tonight. Anyone got a good idea about the going rate for the 2nd tooth?

    The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

    Rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…  

     

    The Nightstand Diaries – 1 year, 5,000 books, and an (almost) anything goes approach to marketing a political thriller.

    July 20, 2010

    Day 36 of 365

    Books sold so far (as of the end of May 2010, which is my first official month – sales reports in this industry lag big time!): 157

     In this issue:

    •  The Diaries get a facelift
    • FB ad round-up – Did we finally hit a winner?         
    • Making Friends work for you

     The Diaries get a facelift

    You’ll probably notice that I’ve changed my blog’s appearance. I received a few comments that it was hard to read before with the light text on the dark background. I have to admit the old color scheme wasn’t my favorite either. So I hope this new look is easier on the eyes.

     FB ad round-up – Did we finally hit a winner?

    Okay, so here’s the ad I created last night that went out to the “economics” crowd on FB:

     Could a novel come true?

    A fugitive lawman uncovers the link between a secret society’s plot for financial Armageddon & the FED, based on REAL economic numbers.

     And here are the numbers:

    Date Imp. Clicks CTR (%) Avg. CPC ($) Avg. CPM ($) Spent ($)
    07/20/2010 6,613 2 0.03 0.57 0.17 1.14
    07/19/2010 684 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
    Lifetime 7,297 2 0.03 0.57 0.16 1.14

     2 people clicked on it. God help me if the cat jumped up on the desk and made them accidentally click it. Not exactly knocking the bell off the book marketing world with that little nugget. So, while I am going to keep that winner in the rotation all week, I stopped for a second and thought about who I’m trying to reach with my ads. I am trying to reach readers, but not just readers, fans of suspense thrillers. Those folks respond to bold language. Then I thought about the thrillers that I’ve read lately. Most of them have been letdowns, all fizzle and no sizzle (oh yes, that phrase will be used in a later ad). I’m sure I’m not alone here when I say that most of the entertainment that I digest does not live up to the hype. And there it was – as marketing people will tell you, customers could care less about your product; they only care about what problem of theirs it can solve. So, I thought what problem would a suspense thriller fan have that my book could alleviate? With that in mind, I give you my pièce de résistance:

     Electrifying new author

    Tired of the same plots & the same characters? Read the intro to this award winning thriller and never see the world the same again.

     I’d love to take a poll and know what you guys think, but I haven’t learned how to do that yet. But I’ll keep trying and get a poll in here sooner or later.

    Again, thriller readers respond to electric language and bold declarations. That’s why they like thrillers! That’s the thing my ads have been missing. And it seems I may be right, because here are the numbers since 4:00 pm today (It’s 10:00pm now) when the ad went live:

    Date Imp. Clicks CTR (%) Avg. CPC ($) Avg. CPM ($) Spent ($)
    07/20/2010 72,316 34 0.05 0.56 0.26 18.95
    Lifetime 72,316 34 0.05 0.56 0.26 18.95

     34 people! That’s the most clicks I’ve had in a six hour time frame by far and the highest CTR % (click through rate) of any ad I’ve done so far. So, I think we’ve hit on something here. But if I have, how can I leverage it?

     Marketers also talk about revolving an entire campaign around one message. Don’t confuse people with several messages, just deliver one and repeat it over, and over and over. If the numbers for this ad keep going like this, I may have just found the one message that finally fits.  

     Making Friends work for you

     This weekend is chock full of book marketing events. Saturday is the North Texas Conference for Library Supporters. It is an event for members of Library Boards, Friends of the Library and Library Foundations, library volunteers and other supporters, and library staff that work with any of the above. Needless to say, it’s a huge audience of book lovers and a great place for an author to network. I found out about the conference from the director of our local city library and, since I held a lecture for the Friends of the Colleyville Public Library (FCPL), which incorporated a book signing where I donated all the profits from the evening to the FCPL, my registration for the event was free. I will have a table there, and while I am not allowed to sell books, I will have a contest to give away a couple signed copies of The Brink. Contestants only need to fill out their contact info to put their ticket in the hat. (a great way to beef up the email list, no?)  

    After the conference, I’m headed to the nearby Hastings in Denton, Texas for a signing from 6pm-8pm. While I performed my normal promotional duties of sending all the local press a news release, I also talked to the City of Denton director of library services about inviting their Friends group to the signing. I am offering them the same deal I did for FCPL: all profits from books they buy during the signing will go to their Friends group.  Bottom line is this: people that get involved in Friends of library groups love book and love their communities. If you’re a local author and do something nice for them, they will talk about what you did and your book to their friends and neighbors. You get that many more possible buyers that otherwise may have never heard of you. Einstein may have said that there’s no force in the universe like compound interest, but there’s no force in marketing like word of mouth.   

    The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

    rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…